For young people who love parties, clubs, and raves, molly has become a drug of choice. Also known as MDMA, molly is a psychoactive drug used to enhance recreational social events and is commonly paired with alcohol or marijuana. Molly is known for being relatively benign and non-addictive, making it a seemingly safe choice for those looking for a good time.
However, molly is not necessarily as safe as it sounds. Long-term use, a distinct possibility for those who become attached to the sensation of getting high in a party setting, carries the potential for big problems, including side effects on the brain. For those who love taking MDMA in any form during a big night out, it’s important to understand what it is and the potential consequences that may accompany ongoing use.
What Is Molly?
Molly is one of several colloquial terms for 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine, or MDMA. It can also be referred to as “ecstasy,” which can be nicknamed “E” or “X.”
As a psychoactive drug that has similarities to both stimulants and hallucinogens, MDMA causes altered sensations, euphoria, energy, and empathy. Users may also have a distorted perspective on the passage of time and sensory perception. Molly can be taken in several forms, including pills, liquid, and powder.
When consumed, molly increases the presence of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. Combined, these neurotransmitters respectively increase energy, boost heart rate and blood pressure, and elevate trust, emotional closeness, and mood. This combination makes molly particularly appealing, especially when partying with friends and enjoying live music, clubs, or festivals.
The effects of MDMA last for around three to six hours depending on the size of the dose consumed. Other short-term effects that may occur include:
- Muscle cramping
- Blurred vision
- Sweating excessively
- Impulsiveness and aggression
- Decreased appetite
- Trouble sleeping
- Anxiety or depression
Molly isn’t used by a significant part of the population—only around seven percent of people have used MDMA at least once in their lifetime—but is most popular among those ages 18 to 25. Unlike substances that are considered highly addictive, molly is often treated more casually because it is more of a party drug and not typically associated with regular, daily use. This means that there’s not a significant amount of data on the health consequences of use.
However, this does not minimize the serious nature of drug abuse of any kind. Users of molly can develop a behavioral addiction to the drug. The biochemical component of addiction that accompanies the use of drugs like heroin and cocaine may not be there. Still, like other behavioral addictions such as food, sex or gambling, partying and using molly can become a very addictive process.
The Health Risks of Molly
Though sometimes hard to pin down since molly is rarely taken alone, there are potential long-term effects from chronic MDMA abuse. Those who abuse MDMA seriously may face negative symptoms in the future, both during and after use.
Anxiety and Depression
As MDMA changes the ways neurotransmitters function in the brain, prolonged use followed by rapid cessation can cause symptoms associated with anxiety and depression. This is related to the changing levels of dopamine and serotonin, driven by long-term and regular exposure.
In general, ceasing use of MDMA will eventually cause these levels to stabilize and minimize the symptoms of a lack of drug use, but this process can take time. For those with serious side effects or who quit molly and are still experiencing symptoms, a professional should oversee treatment of side effects.
Insomnia, or trouble falling or staying asleep, is a problem for millions of Americans. Unfortunately, MDMA abuse can trigger insomnia or worsen existing insomnia. The effects on neurotransmitters in the brain—in ways that increase energy—can make staying alert easier, but consequently negatively impact the ability to get to sleep. Those who take molly regularly may find themselves unable to maintain healthy sleep patterns and struggle to get enough sleep to function properly.
In addition to interfering with job performance, family duties, and education, a lack of sleep can contribute to other mental health problems, like anxiety and depression.
Many types of drugs can impact behavior. In those who use ecstasy for long periods of time, MDMA can cause erratic behavior and increased impulsivity, leading to actions one normally would not take. These behavioral issues can persist after a cessation of molly use. They may also be an indication that MDMA has caused semi-permanent or permanent changes to the brain, creating the potential for future behavioral problems.
Many addictive substances can cause damage to the brain, including drugs like alcohol or heroin. The same is true of MDMA. Alhough research is still preliminary, some studies indicate that long-term molly use could be correlated with memory and concentration problems. Other studies have suggested speculatively that these negative effects may be alleviated by the cessation of use.
It’s important to also note that the long-term health effects of molly can be hard to delineate, because MDMA is rarely taken without other substances. Its longer-term effects may therefore be impacted by its use in combination with other drugs or alcohol.
There is no such thing as a safe drug of abuse. Just because significant or fatal risks aren’t currently being studied doesn’t mean a serious threat does not exist. MDMA’s long-term effects can become a problem for those who do not seek treatment.
Getting Help to Quit
Quitting any drug can be a challenge, and that includes molly. Even though substances like molly are considered non-addictive when compared to drugs like heroin or cocaine, anything can become a problem habit. If too many nights spent clubbing with molly or regular molly use while smoking pot or getting drunk have turned a party drug into a substance use disorder, there is help. With its inpatient and outpatient programming, FHE Health has helped many people successfully overcome addiction problems in many shapes and sizes. Contact us today to learn more about treatment options for MDMA and other substances.